Humans have been treading the earth for around 200,000 – 300,00 years. We developed the ability to speak to each other some 50,000 years ago. As the human voice is considered to be the very first musical instrument, most evolutionary biologists believe that speaking and singing are inseparable. This makes song a deeply innate instinct, and a powerful learning tool.
Most parents begin singing to their children in the first weeks of life and infants usually learn to sing songs before they develop intelligible speech. Through song and music, children first experience and learn about letters, numbers, colors, animals, and everyday objects and events Using songs as a part of learning activities outside of the music classroom for teenage learners is rare. Perhaps teachers believe that music and song are the realm of the music classroom, or that the songs they choose might not interest the students, but songs are as universal as language and can, therefore, be used to develop skills in a wide range of subjects.
Literacy: songs can teach vocabulary, improve reading skills, highlight idiomatic language in context, clarify complex ideas with reverse learning filtering through to a student’s writing.
Language learning: songs have become a language classroom staple.
Structure: songs are poems and they follow set patterns. Essential skills can be learned from studying songs and applied universally.
History: almost all periods of modern history have songs attached to them. Romantic, patriotic, rebellious…whatever the subject, the songs are memorable and evoke strong emotions and leave a record of the time.
Social commentary: popular songs document significant current affairs and issues are popular and can form the basis for discussions and projects.
Emotional intelligence and self-awareness: learners often identify strongly with certain songs. Exploring why can lead to a better understanding of ourselves and others.
Songs are fun and generate activities that are naturally collaborative. Some learners might respond better to song-based learning activities than more traditional ones.
Popplet is a mind-mapping app, which offers a limitless canvas that lets users capture ideas then organize and connect them in a multitude of ways. It’s no surprise that vocabulary building and Popplet are such a good fit. A language might consist of millions of words – a daunting prospect for the language learner. Fortunately, getting to know each and every word is not how vocabulary building works. The key to understanding a lexicon is to navigate its vastness through its connections. Popplet is the perfect tool for this.
In our previous article, we introduced some ways to teach language learners vocabulary by employing Popplet’s user-friendly features. We hope we gave some indication of Popplet’s potential as an adaptable, effective application for the ESL classroom. Next, we are going to examine more vocabulary building strategies by focussing on:
Few areas have produced more debate in the field of English language learning than that of grammar instruction. What most language teachers agree on is that at some point language learners fare far better if they develop a firm grasp of the working rules that govern the use of the English language.
Where language professionals might differ is in “how” to teach grammar. Traditional methods initially used to teach Latin and Greek, consisted of learning grammar tables and rules by rote, and included a lot of painful repetition, which students rarely remember fondly. As for their effectiveness, since 17th & 18th-century learners were never expected to actually speak these ancient languages, it’s hard to say. Most would certainly remember verb conjugations for the rest of their lives!
With the popularity of modern languages such as English and the possibility of actually being able to speak the language being learned, methods gradually changed, albeit surprisingly slowly. Nowadays, a more communicative approach is favored in most language learning classrooms, and the emphasis on a precise knowledge of grammar is much more relaxed.
Popplet is a user-friendly tech tool that is popular with teachers and students of all ages and disciplines. It is a mind-mapping application for the iPad and the web that lets you capture and organize your ideas. Popplet is versatile, with an easy to use interface and a comfortable level of functionality, but with robust features that are especially suited to learning environments.